The blaring techno, waifish models and $10 cocktails all seemed appropriate for a book release party/fashion show, but one thing was truly different from your usual runway moment: the clothes. Designer Diana Eng has become famous for her blend of style and science, mixing technology into her accessories and clothes whenever possible. PopSci.com attended her recent release party, and brought back some photos of the fierce fashion geekery.
Designer Diana Eng often focuses on taking pieces of electronics that one would ordinarily carry around with them, like a cell phone, headphones or a PDA, and turning them into accessories. The flower shaped necklace hides a USB thumb drive, and the necklace to the right houses a small LCD screen for displaying digital photos, making it the 21st century answer to the locket.
PopSci.com interview, Eng said that her favorite tool is conductive thread. These tiny wires can be sewn like regular thread, and allow Eng to trace a power supply across fabric without danger of electrocuting the wearer. Here, the words “Fashion Geek” are written in conductive thread, which in turn brings electricity to some LED lights.
To ensure that the clothes don’t run out of power, the user has to be able to switch them on and off. To make the switches as natural and unobtrusive as possible, Eng puts them in the clothes’ buttons. When the jacket is closed, the circuit is complete, and the lights on the jacket activate. When the wearer takes the jacket off, unfastening the buttons breaks the circuit. Also note the custom flower headphones.
The Ultimate Purse
Much like the buttons in the previous jacket, this purse contains a novel switch mechanism. Eng made the embroidery pattern on the purse from conductive thread. When the user pulls the drawstring, the conductive thread closes in on itself, completing the circuit, and turning on the purse’s lights.
In another brilliant integration of common electronics into clothing, Eng has built headphones directly into this hoodie– that pink patch on the right houses one of the speakers. The plug for the headphones comes out in the kangaroo pocket, allowing easy iPod access.
Tricked Out Kicks
Eng said these shoes were inspired by the fluorescent running lights people use to trick out their car. Made by running electroluminescent wire around the sole, the power wire runs up the back of the shoe.
Speaking of glowing shoes, this pair wasn’t in the show, but is damn cool nonetheless. LED’s coat the shoe, and are linked to a hacked pedometer. The pedometer monitors the wearer’s footsteps, activating the lights as the user takes each step.
All Turned On
Clearly, Eng is a fan of LED lights in particular, and shinny things in general. Here you can see what all the clothes look like when they are turned on.
And here’s Diana Eng herself, patiently posing for one intrepid PopSci.com reporter.